Last night, I took myself off to meet a new writing group. It’s a bit of a jaunt from where I live but easy enough to get to and was definitely worth the trip. I already belong to a local writing group - which I have recently returned to after my many months in isolation but I wanted a little extra, hence this second group.
Most writing groups meet once a month on a particular night, so given these groups meet on the same night but different weeks of the month – they won’t ever clash! The benefit for me is that I get to meet another group of interesting and creative people, with whom I can connect. Which is vital if you wish to stay alert creatively, as routine does affect your mindset and productivity. It's no coincidence that this morning I was full of beans and eager to start writing.
Last night’s writers had me laughing and crying within the space of fifteen minutes but that’s the power of the written word! I had an enjoyable evening listening to their non-fiction pieces of prose and poetry. I’ve paid my quarterly subs and am looking forward to my next visit in January.
Last Monday, I took the day off from work to enjoy a day trip to London. It wasn’t a spur of the moment trip but one I’d been thinking about for a while as I wanted to celebrate the 60th birthday of my aunty, who died as a teenager. I have always recognised her birthday; her name being added to every calendar that I’ve ever owned. Though how do you celebrate a milestone for someone who died so young, when you yourself were even younger? After much thought, I decided to link her birthday to my grandparents' anniversary, so there was only one place for me to visit St. Paul’s cathedral, London.
St. Paul’s cathedral was bombed during the Second World War blitz on the night of Wednesday, 9th October 1940 – the same day my grandparents were married in Delhi, India. It’s not a detail that they’d ever referred to but one which I’ve learnt through my love of history. The only detail continually referred to regarding their wedding date is that it was the day on which the late John Lennon was born! Albeit continents apart, the date unites the events. So, in my mind, my grandparents’ wedding, St. Paul’s Cathedral and John Lennon are united like a strange trinity - welcome to my world, baffling but true!
The last time I visited St. Paul’s Cathedral was as a twelve-year-old on a three-day excursion to London with my secondary school, back in 1983. Ironically, the same year my aunty had died, again making the location a fitting choice. I remember a school playing netball on the pedestrian area beside St. Paul’s graveyard, the checker board floor tiling and the seemingly endless steps climbing towards the delights of the ‘Whispering galley’.
I venture towards London several times a year, usually opting for the underground, which I love. I know others hate the hustle and bustle but I could stand and people watch for hours. This time, I opted to walk the distance from London Euston to St. Paul’s Cathedral - a walk of 45 minutes made easier by the pleasant, warm weather.
I took delight in spotting so much as I strolled through Bloomsbury, Tavistock Square, Russell Square, Chancery Lane, Fleet Street and finally, reaching Ludgate Hill – many of which I’d have missed if I’d taken the underground.
As I approached the great cathedral, a bell was tolling which made me smile - if you know, you know! I won’t bore you with the details of my every step but I did chastise the twelve-year-old me for not remembering the painted ceilings and carved archways. I climbed the 528 steps to the ‘Whispering gallery’, noting the once matt black railings have been repainted in a stunning gold, before circling the gallery time and time again. Partway through my visit the organ player surprised us with a practise session, duly followed by the choir! Everyone sat down and listened to the delights on offer - I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting celebration in memory of my aunty.
I'm attending two 'Author Q&A' sessions hosted by Warwickshire libraries in February 2024. On Saturday, 10th February 2024, I'll be at Rugby library from 11am onwards. On Monday, 26th February 2024, I'm visiting Nuneaton library from 7:30pm onwards. I'll be discussing my publication journey, my inspirations, current project and provide tips about creative writing - literally, an insight into my creative world!
I'll happily sign paperback books at the end of each session so please bring them in!
The event is free to attend but has a set number of places - so booking is advisable. To reserve a ticket: copy and paste the link into your search bar. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/cc/author-events-2632979
I've been dreading today, there I’ve said it. Because today’s date is a stark reminder of what my life was precisely one year ago. Tuesday, 15th November 2022* was officially labelled as the worst day of a horrible 2022. I’d spent months battling with poor health. A level of physical health that I’d never previously encountered. I’d spent the day at the hospital surrounded by medics, received a mind-numbing phone call and endured a prearranged 45 minute MRI scan, in which I didn’t move one inch, seriously – I don’t know how I did it. After which I found myself making decisions based on earlier hospital appointments and discussions about a probable seven week isolation period to avoid Covid, in preparation for an operation planned for January 2023. Which ultimately turned into a much lengthier isolation period and my op in June!
In the afternoon, I had a rather frank discussion with a police officer about a detailed statement I’d made three days earlier. Which renewed my faith in our law enforcement but which ultimately saddened me that certain measures are necessary in this anti-social world that we live in.
Alongside the pain and the side-effects of medication, I juggled my lack of sleep, induced worry and continued stress that often accompanies poor health. You live a half-life in which you’re constantly clock watching awaiting the next dose of tablets, the hope of pain relief working and battling the sheer magnitude that life might never improve from this scenario. The freedom you once had to live a full and active life has gone with no goodbye or even, see you laters!
I was dealing with two conditions: one of my body’s own making, the other caused by a doctor’s mistake with a prescription drug – each condition conflicting with the other, both serious in their own right.
The day was dark, I can’t deny that. I dragged my sorry ass through the motions. I’d spent each hour talking myself through each step, from appointment to appointment, from place to place. Facts, details and worries swimming around my head. Unanswered questions that no one wanted to help me answer in case they influenced my decisions – those type, the big ones.
Finally, I reached the end of a horrible day. And that’s when there was one small moment of sunshine. Just one glimmer. My instant reaction surprised even me – I burst out crying in the middle of a public place ruining that moment.
Over the past year, I’ve had to refer back to this particular day, time and time again. And today, one year on, with my health restored 100%, and despite dreading the dark memories, I’m hoping for a day filled with sunshine.
*Slap bang in the middle of my NaNoWriMo month!
I'm attending Longden Library, Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday, 9th December 2023 from 11am for an 'Author Q&A' session. I'll be discussing my publication journey, giving hints and tips about creative writing, my inspirations, future projects and an insight into my world! Phew, there'll be a lot to discuss - there usually is!
I'll happily sign paperback books at the end - so please bring them in! Christmas presents too, if you wish!
The event is free to attend but has a set number of places - so booking is advisable.
To secure your place, it’s best to contact Longton Library on 01782 238424 or by email:Longton.email@example.com
A few weeks ago, I promised you a story ...
Once upon a time there was a published author who read every review and checked her review ratings each week. Other authors told her she shouldn't read them as their confidence was knocked, if they received a poor review. But this brave little author continued to read her reviews because each written review gave her an insight into what her readers were looking for in her books, their likes, their dislikes and what they wished to read more of. She took notes and planned accordingly.
She continued to read her reviews, taking the good with the bad. She noticed certain patterns in the written reviews and the star ratings. She noticed that negative comments and one star ratings were being made for each book by readers called Claudia, Claude, Claud and Clawed - this seemed very strange. Why could she not please these particular readers with various books? But she took it on the chin, never moaned, didn't complain and didn't mention it to anyone, for quite a while. A long while, in fact. Until the day she did. She told a group of authors on a writing retreat. The other authors were genuinely shocked, surprised and offered her many kind words hoping that Claudia, Claude, Claud and Clawed might one day like her writing. She mentioned it to some others over dinner. Word got around, and over time several other people mentioned to her that they'd heard her tale about Claudia, Claude, Claud and Clawed. And that's when this author noticed a new pattern - written reviews by Claudia, Claude, Claud and Clawed stopped! Many previous reviews were even deleted. The end.
Note: this brave little author continues to read every written review and notices the star ratings.
I share this story because it came as a shock when I realised in this wonderful world of books that not everyone has your back. Not everyone wants your book to be a success, not everyone smiles at the praise you receive on social media, celebrates your book launch or supports you during NaNoWriMo. Do I think Claudia, Claude, Claud and Clawed have disappeared - nope, I don't. Though I'll continue to live happily-ever-after simply writing my books and supporting my author-friends!